What’s new from The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel

LEE COUNTY, FL – Ready, set, mark your calendars and plan a vacation! The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel in southwest Florida continues to provide new experiences for visitors to Florida’s unspoiled island sanctuary. For more information, visit www.FortMyersSanibel.com.

Be inspired
Judy Ledgerwood, award-winning contemporary painter from Chicago and a professor at Northwestern University, created six huge paintings inspired by The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel. The paintings have been translated into billboards throughout Chicago, one of Lee County tourism's major feeder markets. The promotion includes eight massive "wallscape" billboards in downtown Chicago, in River North and the Gold Coast. An additional 56 big billboards display Ledgerwood's Lee County-based work along major expressways. For details and to view the collection, visit www.fortmyers-sanibel.com/ledgerwood.

Save the date
Mark your calendars for “Ding” Darling Days birding and eco-festival at J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island Oct. 19-25. Family Fun Day kicks off the week with free activities on Oct. 19 with refuge tours, live wildlife presentations, archery clinics, hot dogs, a touch tank and butterfly house and kids’ nature crafts. Muppeteer Jim Henson’s daughter, Heather Henson, will return with performances featuring life-size endangered animal puppets. Conservation Art Day winds up the celebration on Oct. 25 with visits from Federal Duck Stamp and Junior Duck Stamp winners and nature art workshops. Free and discounted birding, biking, kayaking, paddle boarding, sea life boating, and interpretive presentations will fill the week between the two events.

The 25th annual “Ding” Darling Days celebrates the birthday of the refuge’s namesake, father of the Federal Duck Stamp program and Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist, Jay N. “Ding” Darling. Visit www.dingdarlingdays.com for updates. Restaurant Week 2014 is right around the corner and promises to be a delicious week Nov. 2-8, filled with special three-course prix fixe lunch and dinner menus and one-of-a-kind culinary experiences. Visitors will have the opportunity to discover the culinary delights of fresh, local, Gulf seafood, explore hydroponic farms and more. These are just a few examples of what happens when you combine amazing food with the perfect location. Visit http://www.fortmyerssanibel.com/restaurant-week for details.

Kudos
USA Today has named Captiva Island one of 10 Most Romantic Coastal Destinations. The article says: "Sunsets are spectator sports on Captiva Island, when, like clockwork, locals drag their folding chairs down to the fine-sand beaches to sip wine and nibble snacks as Apollo slips below the horizon. A 'Floribbean' vibe has permeated every corner of this Gulf Coast spit of sand (barely five miles long and a half-mile wide), from its bright-white beaches—some of the best anywhere for shell collecting—to the relaxed shops and restaurants in the village. If you have an itch to get off the island for a few hours, grab a water taxi and head to nearby Sanibel Island or Cabbage Key. Or book a day cruise with New Moon Sailing, with stops at Cayo Costa, North Captiva and Boca Grande. But make sure you're back in time for one of those storied sunsets.

Where to stay: 'Tween Waters Inn gets its name from its location—on the narrow part of the island, between the Gulf and Pine Island Sound, meaning you can catch both sunset and sunrise. For privacy, opt for one of the Seaside Cottages. If you want to break out of the resort mold, Captiva Island Inn's cute little cottages are a fun-and-funky bit of local color."

Coastal Living magazine recently named Captiva Island one of its 2014 Happiest Seaside Towns. The magazine says: "The slender barrier island in the Gulf of Mexico west of Fort Myers has pale, powdery sands graced with more than 250 types of seashells..." Read more here.

Buzzfeed.com recently listed two Lee County communities in its 11 Small Florida Towns You Need to Visit. At No.1, the list recommends Sanibel Island “for secluded and untouched beauty.” At No. 8, it lists Fort Myers “for underrated history and serene beaches.” Read more.

Sanibel Island was named one of the five top Florida beaches by Outsideonline.com. Writing that "The beaches on this Gulf Coast island are the real versions of those you daydream about: white sand, turquoise waters, palm trees swaying in the breeze, a lone beach chair beckoning from the shore." Read the entire article by Ashley M. Biggers here.

The Beaches of Fort Myers and Sanibel recently received a Webby Award for Best Travel & Adventure Online Film & Video. The 18th annual awards, presented by the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences (IADAS), recognized the Lee County Visitor & Convention Bureau (VCB) for its video Awaken, a five-minute digital experience that celebrates the region’s ecological diversity. www.fortmyers-sanibel.com/awaken.

The Lee County Board of County Commissioners has been awarded a prestigious United States Green Building Council award from the Florida Gulf Coast Chapter. The county received the Outstanding Municipality / Business of the Year Award recently at the fourth annual LEEDership Awards ceremony.

The LEEDership Awards recognize companies, municipalities and project teams in the Florida Gulf Coast region that advance LEED projects and principles, demonstrate leadership, advocacy, and commitment to the advancement of the mission of the United States Green Building Council in the marketplace and in the community. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. Lee County received the award by incorporating sustainability into planning practices, increasing energy efficiencies in buildings and operations, supporting multimodal transportation systems, and focusing on transparency and collaboration. Examples include LEED-certified JetBlue Park and the Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve Interpretive Center as well as efforts leveraged to obtain the recently received $10.5 million federal TIGER grant. www.usgbc-fgc.org/events?eventId=713388&EventViewMode=EventDetails

Attractions
The Historic Koreshan home in Estero has completed the cottage rehab where one of the "Final Four" Koreshans lived. The home of German-born Conrad Schlender, the tiny woodframe building was likely built around 1900, then moved to the Utopian communal settlement in the 1930s. The $50,000 restoration included leveling the foundation, repairing siding, windows and door and installing a new metal roof. A clattering stand of giant bamboo shades the little building on the grounds of the Koreshan State Historic Site, which offers visitors a glimpse of the lives the idealistic pioneers carved out of the subtropical scrub around the turn of the 20th century. Led by the charismatic Cyrus Teed, who renamed himself Cyrus (Hebrew for shepherd), the group planned to create the New Jerusalem. The Koreshan State Historic Site is located at Corkscrew Road and U.S. 41 in Estero. For details: Call 239-992-0311 or visit floridastateparks.org/koreshan

The Edison Botanical Laboratory became the first site in Florida to be designated by the American Chemical Society as a National Historic Chemical Landmark. The American Chemical Society established the National Historic Chemical Landmarks program in 1992 to recognize important achievements in the history of the chemical sciences. Achievements recognized through this program have included the discovery and development of penicillin and the work of historical figures such George Washington Carver and Rachel Carson. The project to restore the 1928 Edison Botanical Laboratory was led by Edison Ford staff and consultants which included a very diverse group of university professors, scientists, industrial engineers and retired trade workers from the industrial machine shops of the past. The three-year restoration with overall funding of more than $1 million provided building stabilization, restoration of exterior siding, windows and roof, state-of-the-art fire suppression and alarm systems, and new building access. Historical documents and photographs were used by the Edison & Ford Winter Estates research team to correctly place items in the laboratory.

Behind-the-scene tours with a historian are available at 10:30 a.m. each Tuesday and Friday. For details and tour information, visit www.edisonfordwinterestates.org/about/tour-options/inside-the-lab-tuesdays-10-30-a.m./

The historic Everglades Wonder Gardens has reopened in Bonita Springs following a change in ownership and a renovation. Opening in 1936, the gardens offer a piece of Florida history to visitors who may tour one of Florida's original roadside attractions. Wander the newly-created paths, see pink flamingos, alligators, a swinging bridge and a butterfly garden. The park also includes landscape photography in John Brady's Everglades Gallery and a picnic area. The park, located at 27180 Old U.S. 41 in Bonita Springs, is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Call 239-992- 2591 or visit www.evergladeswondergardens.com.

The Shell Factory & Nature Park in North Fort Myers has added the new 600-foot, 30- mph Soaring Eagle Zip Line to its menu of family attractions. www.shellfactory.com.

Miss Evie, a Grand Banks motor yacht, has joined the Southwest Florida Yachts charter fleet based in Cape Coral. The yacht has three air-conditioned sleeping cabins, a galley, a dinette seating six, a rail-mounted charcoal grill, and two color TVs. www.swfyachts.com.

The Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum on Sanibel Island hosts a weekly beach walk with a marine naturalist each Tuesday at 10 a.m. Cost is $10 per person and includes half-price admission to the museum. Reservations are required. Details; www.shellmuseum.org.

J. N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island has opened its new Wildlife Education Boardwalk Phase 1 of the freshwater trail and its two-level observation deck. The new 300-foot boardwalk connects Indigo Trail to a fence at the perimeter of the Sanibel School.

The refuge has renamed the trail to reflect its appeal to wildlife-lovers of all ages and the replicated animal tracks and scat that will be added in Phase 2 of completion. The boardwalk, constructed primarily with recyclable materials, crosses a brackish wetland heretofore inaccessible to the public. The two-level, covered observation deck creates an outdoor classroom, where school groups can congregate and refuge visitors can learn more about the habitat they are seeing -- up close views of alligators, wading birds, and other refuge fauna and flora. www.dingdarlingsociety.org.

Alico Family Golf, a new 30-acre golf center, opened in Fort Myers. Designed for all ages, it offers programs for golfers new to serious. The lighted facility features a 5,000-square-foot clubhouse, a sports cafe, 18 holes of miniature golf, a PGA teaching school, 72 grass tee boxes, shaded practice areas, nine holes of novice-friendly golf, youth camps, and clinics for all ages. 239-334-GOLF or www.alicofamilygolf.com.

Coming soon: HeadPinz Fort Myers a high-tech bowling/entertainment center plans to open in Fort Myers in December with 45,000 square feet located a mile north of Southwest Florida International Airport. It will include 24 bowling lanes, a laser tag arena, a rope course, more than 50 arcade games, meeting space for corporate meetings, a sports cafe and two bars.

Accommodations
TripAdvisor has named Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort and Spa in Bonita Springs for the second consecutive year as a Gold Level GreenLeader. The program helps travelers plan greener trips by identifying environmentally-friendly accommodations across the United States. In more news, the resort's Calusa ballroom has been refurbished with a $2.4 million new look that includes LED lighting, neutral wall coverings, digital signage, dramatic glass light fixtures, contemporary furnishings and artwork. www.coconutpoint.hyatt.com.

Pink Shell Beach Resort & Marina has employed naturalist Vince McGrath to offer resort guests morning wildlife walking and kayaking expeditions to explore the eco-zones of the local marine environment. Guests are able to observe numerous flora and fauna, from what’s under the sea to the shoreline, tide pools and upland habitats of the dunes. McGrath also is available to guests to answer questions about creatures they find during their own beach exploration. Visit www.pinkshell.com.

Casa Ybel Resort on Sanibel Island has been ranked by Travel and Leisure Family magazine as one of North America's Top 20 Family Resorts. www.casaybelresort.com.

The Westin Cape Coral Resort at Marina Village has introduced Tangent™ at Westin to assist business travelers in working on the road and to streamline the work experience with smart technology and intuitive design that help connect with colleagues around the table or across the globe. Available by the hour, for small groups of up to four people. For details: www.westin.com/tangent or www.westincapecoral.com.

The Crowne Plaza Fort Myers was one of 10 hotels recently listed by the Crowne Plaza hotel brand with the largest increase in overall guest satisfaction scores. It is one of more than 390 hotels under the brand in 52 countries. www.cpfortmyers.com

Sundial Beach Resort & Spa on Sanibel Island plans to complete the second phase of the resort's multi-million dollar resort renovation program in early November. The program will include a state-of-the-art fitness center, a pizza kitchen, on-site market and deli, new soft tennis courts and much more. The "Sundial Buddies" Kids' Camp and Sanibel's Sea Camp for Kids will also be launched. www.sundialresort.com.

Food and Dining
Chef Charles Mereday, chef-owner of Naples’ Mereday’s Fine Dining and Alto Live Jazz Kitchen, has taken his signature style to Estero with the European-style Mereday's Brasserie. The restaurant is located in Estero’s Coconut Point retail center. Guests enjoy a casual ambiance but with white tablecloths, fresh flowers and original French art. The 8,000-square foot, woodpaneled restaurant has curved banquette seating, an outdoor bar and patio dining, and seats 250 diners. The menu, designed by Mereday, is ingredient-driven and presented and will change daily. The a la carte selections will include starters, salads and sandwiches, main courses and desserts. For information: 239-949-9466.

Doc Ford’s opened its third local restaurant on Captiva Island at the entrance to South Seas Island Resort. Open to the general public, the 300-seat restaurant serves the same cuisine and libations inspired by murder-mystery protagonist Doc Ford during his travels through Florida, the Caribbean, and Central and South America in novels by Sanibel author Randy Wayne White. www.docfords.com.

Bennett’s Fresh Roast, recently opened a second location on Sanibel Island, serving breakfast and lunch daily 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. near the causeway. www.bennettsfreshroast.com.

The former Royal Palm Yacht Club in Fort Myers has been transformed into The Marina at Edison Ford. The marina is home to Pinchers Crab Shack, as well as a grand ballroom with seating up to 250.

The newly refurbished building includes a 45-slip marina capable of docking 80-foot yachts, a total of four fully-stocked bars within the restaurant and ballrooms, and sliding garage windows that will allow diners at Pinchers Crab Shack to be immersed in a waterfront dining experience. www.marinaedisonford.com. Norman Love Confections has opened a new location at the Miromar Outlets in Estero .A gelato and chocolate salon will include waffles and crepes, to be located on the east side of the mall near Ford's Garage and Naples Flatbread. A New York City-based design firm is developing the European-chic scheme of the shop that will also feature chocolates, pastries and other bakery goods. www.normanloveconfections.com.

Arts and Walks
Art Walk in the River District, Downtown Fort Myers, takes place the first Friday of each month, 6-10 p.m. An opportunity for art buyers and art enthusiasts to meet artists at their galleries during show openings, the events end with an after party. www.fortmyersartwalk.com.

Park news
Lehigh Acres Trailhead Park, has opened with 11 acres including a half-mile paved multi-use trail encircling a 3-acre replicated prairie with more than 18,000 native grasses and wildflowers. The park also features picnic pavilions, a boardwalk and observation area with interpretive signs, an outdoor fitness area, restrooms and free parking. Leashed dog walking is permitted on the trail. Visit www.leeparks.org or call 239-533-7275.

Lee County Parks & Recreation has opened its newest dog park, Paws 4 Duty, in Veterans Park in Lehigh Acres. It offers two large shaded off-leash areas: one for large dogs; the other for small, shy dogs or puppies that need a smaller space. The park features water and shower stations as well as waste removal stations and public restrooms for pet owners. www.leeparks.org.

2014 milestone celebrations
The Gasparilla Inn & Club celebrated its 100th season.
Situated in the heart of Boca Grande on Gasparilla Island, The Inn occupies more than 180 acres with breathtaking views of the Gulf of Mexico and Charlotte Harbor. It was a century ago that The Inn was originally built for wellto-do northerners at a time when Florida was first becoming a vacation destination. The National Historic Landmark property is the largest surviving wooden hotel in Florida and one of the original resorts in the state. Details: www.gasparillainn.com or 941-964-4500.

Celebrating 100 years in 2014, Babcock Ranch offers visitors the perfect setting to immerse in nature as they find themselves face to face with wildlife in an Old Florida setting. In 1914, E.V. Babcock purchased 156,000 acres of land and founded Babcock Florida Company.

His son, Fred Babcock, transferred 65,000 acres of this land to the state in the 1940s. Today, this state land is called Fred C. Babcock / Cecil M. Webb Wildlife Management Area. The remainder of the property, some 90,000+ acres, is known as the Crescent B Ranch. Visitors enjoy a 90- minute swamp buggy tour through the Babcock Ranch and Telegraph Cypress Swamp. Experienced guides offer in-depth descriptions of birds, animals, plants, and the cattle and horses that are raised on the ranch. Visitors will see alligators, and many other animals found in southwest Florida, along with a museum featuring Florida history, Babcock operations, and natural history artifacts. The museum itself is actually a movie set used by Warner Brothers in the 1995 film "Just Cause" (starring Sean Connery) that was shot in part on Babcock Ranch. Details: www.babcockwilderness.com

Offshore Sailing School celebrated 50 years in 2014. Headquartered in Fort Myers, the company has taught more than 130,000 to sail. During its anniversary year, it has plans for special programs, activities and contests. Details: www.offshoresailing.com.

Celebrating 25 years, the CREW Land & Water Trust, a private, non-for-profit conservation organization is dedicated to the preservation and stewardship of the water resources in and around the Corkscrew Regional Ecosystem Watershed. CREW’s mission is to coordinate the land acquisition, land management and public use of the 60,000-acre watershed connecting Lee and Collier Counties. CREW provides aquifer recharge, natural flood protection, water purification, preservation of wildlife habitat and public recreation. CREW is open to the public and offers environmental education along with a variety of events and activities for all ages. Activities include guided trail walks, strolling science seminars, bicycling, bird watching, camping, geocaching, hiking, horseback riding, hunting and running. Details: www.crewtrust.org.

New flight service
Frontier Airlines added weekly nonstop service to Cleveland (CLE). Flights operate on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. Frontier inaugurated weekly nonstop service to Washington D.C.-Dulles (IAD). Flights operate Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday. The new markets complement Frontier’s weekly service to Denver (DEN), Trenton (TTN) and Wilmington (ILG). www.flyfrontier.com.

Spirit Airlines will inaugurate weekly nonstop service to Latrobe-Arnold Palmer Regional Airport (LBE) on Dec. 18. Service will operate three days a week on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday. Spirit will operate weekly year-round nonstop service to Chicago-O’Hare (ORD) and Detroit (DTW). This will complement their daily nonstop service to Atlantic City (ACY). www.spirit.com.

Upcoming special events and festivals
2nd Annual Surf & Turf Experience
Oct. 17-19, 2014 Captiva Island
239-433-7189
http://www.dvic.us/coverage/surf-turf
Sports enthusiasts and outdoorsmen will enjoy the return of the Surf & Turf Experience Oct. 17- 19 at South Seas Island Resort on Captiva Island. Proceeds from the event help support the mission of Disabled Veterans Insurance Careers Inc. to educate, train and create meaningful employment opportunities within the insurance industry for disabled veterans. The event is a three-day, two-night sportsman’s weekend consisting of individual competitors on teams of three. The competition includes fishing and golfing components. Visit site for schedule and registration information.

Restaurant Week 2014, various locations
Nov. 2-8,
2014 239-338-3500
www.fortmyers-sanibel.com/restaurant-week
A delicious week filled with special three-course prix fixe lunch and dinner menus and one-of-akind culinary experiences. Visitors will have the opportunity to discover the culinary delights of fresh, local, Gulf seafood, explore hydroponic farms and more. These are just a few examples of what happens when you combine amazing food with the perfect location.

Cape Coral CoCoNut Festival, Cape Coral
Nov. 6-9, 2014
239-573-3121
www.cocofest.com
Sun Splash Family Water Park
The Cape Coral CoCoNut Festival celebrates Cape Coral's reputation for coconuts, multi-cultural food, boating, fishing and wildlife. The festival will feature a national musical act, gymnastic entertainment, carnival rides, water-ski shows, tropical food, contests, coconut crafts, fireworks, and more. Visit website for schedule.

9th Annual Sanibel Island Writers Conference
BIG ARTS and Sanibel Island Public Library
Nov. 6-9, 2014
239-590-7421
www.fgcu.edu/siwc/
Participants at all stages of development, from notebook scribblers to published novelists, are invited to attend workshops in fiction, poetry, songwriting, children’s literature, journalism, screenwriting, creative nonfiction, publishing and editing, along with nightly readings and concerts. All scheduled events are presented by celebrated and experienced writers and teachers, and are open to full-time registrants. The conference welcomes any aspiring writer who wants to create new work or refine a project already in progress. Keynote address will be presented by Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Richard Russo. Visit website for registration details, schedule and costs.

28th Annual American Sand Sculpting Championship, Fort Myers Beach
Nov. 21-30, 2014
239-454-7500
www.fmbsandsculpting.com
Come and join the fun on Fort Myers Beach for the 28th Annual American Sand Sculpting Championship and Beach Festival. Sponsored by the Fort Myers Beach Chamber of Commerce, this fun-filled event will include world-class master sand sculptors, a state championship contest, amateur contest, quick sand speed sculpting, sand sculpting demonstrations and lessons, chain saw art, flying colors, a kids activity area with bounce houses and slides, and more than 60 vendors. Master sand sculptors will gather in front of the Wyndham Garden Hotel, forming the largest sand sculpting event in the state with an all new layout. USA Today listed the event as one of the 10 best sand sculpting competitions and the Southeastern Tourism Society recognized the American Sand Sculpting Championship as a top 20 event. Visit website for schedule details.

The 30th Annual Christmas Luminary Trail and Open House, Sanibel and Captiva islands
Dec. 5 and 6, 2014
239-472-1080
www.sanibel-captiva.org
This popular event draws visitors from all over the world as they join local residents to celebrate the season. Three miles of luminary candles line Periwinkle Way 5:30-9 p.m. on Sanibel Island on Dec. 5 and Dec. 6 on Captiva Island. Businesses are decorated for the holidays with 2,000 candles illuminating pathways, storefronts and homes. For event details, visit http://sanibel-island.sanibel-captiva.org/Events/details/sanibel-luminary-festival-2014-7173

39th Annual Holiday Nights at the Edison & Ford Winter Estates, Fort Myers
Nov. 28, 2014-Jan. 2, 2015 (Event is closed Dec. 24 &25)
239-334-7419
www.edisonfordwinterestates.org
Edison Ford Holiday Nights reflect the many contributions of Thomas Edison, Henry Ford and their families. It was chosen by the editors of USA Today as one of the 10 Best Historic Homes for the Holidays, which also included The White House, Mount Vernon, Monticello and the Biltmore in North Carolina. To view the article visit: http://www.10best.com/interests/trippics/historic-homes-for-the-holidays/.

A not-to-be-missed holiday tradition, the historic buildings and acres of gardens are decorated with lights, traditional decorations and Edison and Ford inventions. A behind the scenes tour, Children's Holiday Tree Trail, Santa visits in the Ford Santa Workshop, refreshments and shopping in the Holiday Cottage Shoppe, Museum Store and Garden Shoppe are some of the planned activities. For admission and details: www.edisonfordwinterestates.org/events/annual-events/holiday-nights/

Captiva Holiday Village, Captiva Island
Weekends Nov. 28-Dec. 14, 2014
www.captivaholidayvillage.com
Beginning Nov. 28-29 with a tree-lighting and fireworks, this popular southwest Florida barrier island transforms into a Holiday Village with events every weekend through Dec. 14. Enjoy gulf beaches, great dining, accommodations and unique holiday shopping. This themed, funfilled holiday extravaganza, is set against the backdrop of the shimmering Gulf of Mexico and breathtaking sunsets. Visitors to Captiva Island during Captiva Holiday Village weekends enjoy a Mullet Band parade, lighted boat parade, South Seas holiday strolls, a Junkanoo Parade, a carol sing at the Chapel by the Sea, sunset arias, a holiday golf cart parade and much more. Check website for details and a complete schedule. For information on accommodations, visit www.captivaholidayvillage.com/accommodations-getaway-vacations/

30th Annual Cape Coral Festival of the Arts, Downtown Cape Coral
239-699-7942
Jan. 10-11, 2015
www.capecoralfestival.com
Sponsored by the Rotary of Cape Coral, the festival was selected one of Sunshine Artists "200 Best." With fun for the whole family, it includes kids activities and a variety of food vendors and local restaurants.

ArtFest Fort Myers, Downtown Fort Myers
Feb. 6-8, 2015
www.artfestfortmyers.com/artfest-overview/
Southwest Florida's premier art festival fills the Fort Myers waterfront with exceptional art, entertainment and children’s art activities. Visitors discover original art by more than 200 artists. Whether you’re a new or experienced art lover, you’ll find something to add to your collection. Visit website for details.

77th Annual Edison Festival of Light Grand Parade, Fort Myers
Feb. 21, 2015
Parade begins at 7 p.m. at Edison Stadium and continues to the Fort Myers Downtown River District.
239-334-2999
www.edisonfestival.org
During February, Fort Myers celebrates the birthday of its most illustrious historical resident, Thomas A. Edison, in befitting fashion. Edison, who built a home on the banks of the Caloosahatchee River and spent 46 winters there, invented the light bulb. So it’s appropriate that the month of activities culminates with a lighted night parade. Invention competitions, parties, craft shows and a 5K run are all part of the festival. Celebrating 77 years, the month of February is filled with special events. Visit www.edisonfestival.org/events for details and a schedule.

Spring Training 2015, Fort Myers
The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel is the spring training home of the Boston Red Sox and the Minnesota Twins. What could be better than beautiful spring days and great baseball? The destination makes it easy for fans to take advantage of all that it has to offer along with great accommodation deals for spring training. For a complete listing of packages, special rates and information on a spring training vacation, visit www.FortMyersSanibel.com.

For schedules and ticket information:
Boston Red Sox spring training
JetBlue Park in Fort Myers
For tickets and package information, go to www.redsox.com or call
239-334-4700 or 877-RED-SOXX.

Minnesota Twins spring training
Hammond Stadium, Fort Myers
For tickets and package information, go to www.twinsbaseball.com or call
800-33-TWINS

57th Annual Fort Myers Beach Shrimp Festival and Parade, Fort Myers Beach
March 14 and 15, 2015
239-463-6986
www.beachshrimpfestival.com
Activities for the 57th annual Fort Myers Beach’s shrimp harvest event will include a parade, crowning of the Shrimp Queen, craft vendors, the boiled shrimp concession, and other seafood booths set up both days at Lynn Hall Memorial Park. For a schedule and details, visit website.

78th Annual Sanibel Shell Fair & Show, Sanibel Island
March 5, 6 and 7, 2015
Sanibel Community House
239-472-2155
http://www.sanibelcommunityhouse.net/events
Sanibel Island, named the best shelling beach in the U.S. and one of the best in the world, hosts shelling enthusiasts who gather each year for the shell fair that draws visitors from around the globe. One of the most unique events in the country, it began on a porch with just a few islanders and has evolved into today's fair that includes demonstrations, shell displays, crafts, prizes, food and entertainment. Visit website for details and a schedule of events.

9th Annual Fort Myers Beach Film Festival, Fort Myers Beach
April 22-26, 2015
www.fmbfilmfest.com 
Back for its ninth year, the Fort Myers Beach Film Festivals attracts independent film fans, filmmakers and distributors to spend four days on Fort Myers Beach to exchange ideas, make new contacts and enjoy some compelling and interesting films encompassing a wide range of tastes. Events are presented for all ages and area accommodations are offering special rates and packages to support this international celebration of independent filmmaking. For a list of films, locations, schedule and other event details, visit website.

Fort Myers Beach Bash
May 15-16, 2015
Bay Oaks Community Park
www.flhelps.org/events/
Family activities, live music with a "tropical rock" theme are just a few of the fun activities planned for this art and food festival. Visit website for schedule and details.

MangoMania, Pine Island
July 19-20, 2015
Pineland Marina
239-283-0888
www.mangomaniafl.net/
The mango is the star attraction for two days each summer on Pine Island. Go wild for fruit as you sample locally-grown delicacies at this annual affair, an unusual celebration of all the tropical fruit grown on the island, which includes lychee, carambola, longan, papaya, and “chocolate pudding fruit.” Fruit, exotic fruit trees, and fruit-related products are available for purchase. The 2015 festival will take place at the Pineland Marina. This fun, family event celebrates Pine Island's mangoes and other tropical fruits. In addition to mango food and beverages, the event features live music, art and craft vendors, food and recipe contests, activities area for kids and a chance to meet the Mango Queen! For more details and schedule of events, visit the website.

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EDITOR’S NOTE: The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel in southwest Florida includes: Sanibel Island, Captiva Island, Fort Myers Beach, Fort Myers, Bonita Springs, Estero, Cape Coral, Pine Island, Boca Grande & Outer islands, North Fort Myers, Lehigh Acres. A media kit and images are available upon request.

http://usgbc-fgc.org/
www.evergladeswondergardens.com

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Lee Rose, Francesca Donlan